E-Update for August 12, 2016
- On August 8, the Republican leadership of the House Education and the Workforce Committee sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary John King regarding the Office of Federal Student Aid and expressed concern over USED’s solicitation calling for a single servicing platform solution.
- On August 8, USED Under Secretary Ted Mitchell sent a letter to college presidents regarding the availability of the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning in October 2016, which is three months earlier than in prior years.
- On August 12, USED announced a Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Performance Partnership Pilots, which enable pilot sites to test innovative strategies to improve outcomes for disconnected youth.
- On August 12, USED launched an Experimental Sites Initiative to strengthen loan counseling to help student loan borrowers manage their debt.
Republican Leadership of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Send a Letter to USED Secretary King Regarding USED’s Office of Federal Student Aid: On August 8, the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee John Kline (R-MN) and Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to USED Secretary King regarding USED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). In the letter, Chairman Kline and Chairwoman Foxx expressed concern over USED’s solicitation calling for a single servicing platform solution, noting that FSA has not had a positive track record related to procurement, management, and oversight.
August 8, 2016
USED Secretary King Travels to China and Singapore: USED Secretary King is traveling in China and Singapore this week to gain a better understanding of China’s public education system and Singapore’s professional development programs for teachers and school leaders. According to his public schedule, USED Secretary King is visiting teacher training workshops at Shanghai Normal University; meeting with Chinese parents to hear how they engage in their children’s education; participating in a town hall in Shanghai with middle and high school students; visiting the Academy of Singapore Teachers; and visiting the National Institute of Education, an institute of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; among other activities.
August 8-12, 2016
USED Under Secretary Ted Mitchell Sends Letter to College Presidents on FAFSA Availability: In a letter to college presidents, USED Under Secretary Ted Mitchell outlined three issues regarding the earlier availability this year of the FAFSA. First, he encouraged institutions to make students aware of the earlier availability of the FAFSA in October 2016. Second, he noted that he hopes institutions will work to provide prospective students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, with financial aid packages as early as possible. Third, Under Secretary Mitchell strongly urged colleges to not move any priority financial aid deadlines earlier than for recent years, even though the FAFSA will be available three months earlier than in prior years.
August 8, 2016
USED Hosts Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit: USED hosted a Federal Bullying Prevention Summit to highlight strategies that schools, students, parents, and community members can use to ensure that all students, particularly those who may be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and religion, have supportive educational environments. Summit participants discussed how to incorporate inclusion and tolerance of differences into bullying prevention activities around the country, and emphasized issues facing transgender youth, students with disabilities, and Muslim and Sikh students.
August 12, 2016
USED Announces Efforts to Strengthen Loan Counseling: USED is launching an Experimental Sites Initiative to rigorously test the effectiveness of more flexible loan counseling policies to help student loan borrowers manage their debt and boost academic outcomes. The pilot will allow colleges to require that certain students, as a condition of receiving Direct Loan funds, complete additional loan counseling beyond the statutorily required one-time entrance and one-time exit counseling. Under Secretary Ted Mitchell explained, “School-based loan counseling creates an opportunity to help borrowers make more informed decisions about their postsecondary education.”
August 12, 2016
USED Announces a Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Performance Partnership Pilots: On August 12, the Federal Register included a pre-publication for the Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Performance Partnership Pilots. Performance Partnership Pilots enable pilot sites to test innovative strategies to achieve significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth. Disconnected youth include individuals between the ages of 14 and 24 who are low income and either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, unemployed, or not enrolled in or at risk of dropping out of an educational institution. The deadline for transmittal of applications is 75 days after the date of official publication in the Federal Register, which will likely be on or before August 15.
August 12, 2016
USED Releases Guidance on Education of Children with Disabilities Attending Public Virtual Schools: USED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released guidance regarding requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that apply to public virtual schools in educating students with disabilities. The guidance addresses the states’ general supervision responsibilities and the applicability of IDEA’s child find provisions for children attending public virtual schools. These provisions ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the state, including those who attend virtual schools, who are in need of special education and related services, regardless of the severity of their disability, are identified, located, and evaluated. The guidance also clarifies the responsibility for the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities attending public virtual schools. The guidance is available here.
August 11, 2016
USED Denies Request from a Chain of For-Profit Colleges to Convert to Non-Profit Status: USED announced that it has denied the request from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE), a chain of for-profit colleges, seeking to convert to non-profit status for federal financial aid reasons. “Schools that want to convert to non-profit status need to benefit the public,” said USED Under Secretary Mitchell. “If the primary beneficiary of the conversion is the owner of the for-profit school, that doesn’t meet the bar. It’s not even close.” Because of the denial, CEHE must continue to meet the requirements under federal gainful employment regulations. USED’s letter to CEHE is available here.
August 11, 2016
USED and DOL Issue Joint Final Regulations for WIOA: USED and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued joint final regulations for implementing workforce education and employment system reforms under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). In addition to the joint WIOA final regulations, the Departments issued separate final rules to implement program-specific requirements of WIOA that fall under each Department’s purview. USED issued three final rules: one implementing program-specific requirements of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), as reauthorized by Title II of WIOA; and two final rules implementing all program-specific requirements for programs authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Title IV of WIOA. As USED Secretary King explained, “These new rules are an important step forward to improve and streamline the current workforce system and a real opportunity to meet the growing needs of workers and job seekers.” Federal Register notices on a joint rule for unified and combined state plans are available here; miscellaneous program changes are available here; state vocational rehabilitation services program are available here; and Adult Education and Family Literacy Act are available here. A press release from DOL is available here.
August 8, 2016
IES Releases Report on Undergraduates Who Do Not Apply for Financial Aid: USED’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released a data report on Undergraduates Who Do Not Apply for Financial Aid. The report found that in 2011-2012, 20% of undergraduate students did not apply for any financial aid. The two most cited reasons for not applying were that students thought they could afford college without aid and students thought they were ineligible. The report details students’ responses by institution type.
IES Releases Data Reports on Bullying, Use of Hate-Related Words, and Unfavorable Conditions in Schools: IES released three reports highlighting data from the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (2013). IES’ data report on Trends in Bullying at School among Students Ages 12 to 18 found that 22% of students reported being bullied in school, the lowest number since 2005. IES’ data report on Trends in Hate-Related Words at School among Students Ages 12 to 18 found that while the percentage of students who reported being called a hate-related word or seeing hate-related graffiti at school decreased since 2011, the percentage of students who were called race-, ethnically-, and sexual orientation-based hate words increased. Lastly, IES’ data report on Reports of Bullying and Other Unfavorable Conditions at School detailed the relationship between students who reported being bullied and students who reported other unfavorable school conditions such as the presence of gangs, drugs, alcohol, and hate-related graffiti.
IES Releases Report on Conditions and Trends in the Education of Students by Racial and Ethnic Group: The report details current conditions and trends in the education of students by racial and ethnic group by examining differences in educational participation and attainment of White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students and students of Two or more races. The report covers topics ranging from early childhood to postsecondary education and includes information on student behaviors and persistence in education.
USED Releases the Newcomer Toolkit: USED’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) released the Newcomer Toolkit which discusses topics related to understanding, supporting, and engaging immigrant students and their families, including asylees and refugees. The toolkit offers tools, strategies, classroom and school-wide practices, professional learning activities, and resources for educators and others who work directly with newcomer students and their families. The information is intended for elementary and secondary teachers, principals, and other school staff to help them promote success for newcomer students.